When we talk about drug abuse, we do not just refer to drugs like alcohol or heroine or cannabis. We need to keep in mind things that are freely available in the home medicine cupboard such as cough syrups.

Here are some signs of teen drug abuse to look for.

  • Grades and Attendance. Have your teen’s grades or study habits dropped? Sometimes, drug abuse can send a straight A student to the verge of flunking out. Often, a sign of drug abuse is a slump that’s not quite so dramatic. A teenager might become less diligent about handing in assignments, forget to study for tests, stop participating in class, or skip classes altogether.
  • Money: Has your teen been borrowing money from friends? Has he been asking you for more money than usual? Has any money from your bag been missing?
  • Friends. Has your teen stopped hanging around with usual friends? Have new faces – including some that might make you uneasy — suddenly started to appear?  Your teenager may abandon long-term friends especially if they are not involved in the similar drug abuse.
  • Mood. Have you noticed mood swings in your teen, suddenly furious for no apparent reason? Has your teenager become oddly manic, sad, or listless? These can sometimes be a sign of drug abuse. You may notice that your teen also spends more time alone, away from family. Might be taking a longer time in the toilet than needed.
  • Appearance. Has your teen’s appearance changed significantly?  You may notice a general lack of hygiene and meticulousness in dressing . Your teen has been wearing the same shirt for a few days, stopped showering regularly, or completely changed their style of clothing.
  • Eating. Have you noticed any big changes in how your teen is eating, either more or less?  Are there times when he won’t eat for hours and then eat as if he has been starving…? Parents should not ignore any significant changes in weight, be it unusual gain or loss.
  • Sleep. Has your teen’s sleep pattern changed? Depending on the drug, abuse could cause changes in how your teen sleeps. Your teenager might suddenly seem to sleep all day – or never seem to sleep at all.
  • Secretiveness. Has your teen become excessively secretive about after-school activities, or strangely anxious if you get anywhere near his or her belongings? Study the body language.
  • Sickness. Does your teen frequently ask for cough or cold medicine? Obviously, you don’t want to dismiss signs that your child is sick with a cold or respiratory infection. But if your teen is always demanding medicine for a cough, it could be a sign of drug abuse.
  • Hidden trash. Have you found empty bottles of medicine or empty packages in the trash? If your teen is buying cough medicine on his own, and using it without telling you, it could be a sign of drug abuse.

Are any of these irrefutable signs of drug abuse? Of course not. Many can are common signs of just being an adolescent – the teenage years are a time of constant change, after all. But if you notice some of these warning signs of drug abuse, it may be time for a talk. At the very least, you should start paying closer attention.

There is a urine test available to detect drugs [ not all, but a good number] but one has to be careful that the specimen is undiluted and genuine. Teens on drugs are very clever at hiding evidence. So go with him for the test. Make sure he does not add tap water to the sample. The name of the test is Thin Lear Chromatography.